Figure 3. Persons Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status in the United States (annual, in millions), the Business Cycle (peak to trough, quarterly), and Key Immigration Legislation, Fiscal Years 1882 to 2008
Note: These data represent persons admitted for lawful permanent residence during the 12-month fiscal year ending in October of the year designated. The total for 1976 includes both the fiscal year and transitional quarter data. Recessions are based on quarterly data from peak to trough of the business cycle. The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale retail sales. The first broad modern assertion of the federal regulatory power in the immigration area is generally considered the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Source: Migration Policy Institute analysis of Table 1 in US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2008, Table 1. Data on recessions from National Bureau of Economic Research, US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions. Legislation from, Michael Fix and Jeffrey S. Passel, Immigration and Immigrants: Setting the Record Straight (Washington, DC: The Urban Institute, May 1994).

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